SSG Landers center fielder Choi Ji-hoon, 26, showed why he’s the next big thing in the national infield.
The South Korean baseball team, led by Ryu Jung-il, bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in the baseball final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Center in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, China, on Sunday (July 7).
With the victory, Korea avenged a 0-4 loss to Chinese Taipei in the group stage and won its fourth consecutive Asian Games title, joining Guangzhou 2010, Incheon 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang 2018.
While starter Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha) pitched a stellar six innings of three-hit ball, striking out seven and walking none, Choi Ji-hoon started at second base and went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a walk.
Once again, it was Choi who started the Korean offense. In the top of the first inning, Choi drew a walk to lead off the inning. He did not contribute to the scoring in the second inning, but in the fifth inning, he reached base on an infield single, giving him a hit in every game at the Asian Games. She is tied with Yoon Dong-hee (Lotte) for the record.
She stayed in center field the rest of the way to help seal the gold medal and finished the tournament batting .524 (11-for-21) with one home run, five RBIs, six runs scored and a 1.209 OPS in six games. He led the team in batting average, hits, and runs scored, proving coach Ryu Jung-il was right to select him.
It’s a life-changing scenario that would have been hard to imagine six years ago. When he graduated from Gwangju Il High School in 2017, Choi “Infielder” Ji-hoon was ignored by 10 professional teams. But he went to Dongguk University, where he became one of the best hitters in college and was selected with the 30th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 KBO Draft.
From there, it was all downhill from there. From his debut in 2020, he was touted as the heir apparent to the “Beast” Kim Kang-min, 41, for his stellar outfield defense, and last year, along with his first triple-digit batting average as a starting center fielder, he led SSG to its first KBO regular season wire-to-wire title and Korean Series title. He earned his first senior national team call-up at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, and in June, he was named the starting center fielder for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.
It wasn’t without its ups and downs. After April, his batting average struggled in the low 20s, and by the time the final squad was announced, he wasn’t expected to play defense. He made the team in September with a .317 batting average, but before he joined the squad, he had put himself down, saying, “I’ve never played for the youth national team or been a superstar like (Park) Sung-han, so I’m just going to go to the national team and do what I’m supposed to do.”
But at the tournament, Choi was a superstar in his own right. His first hit came off the bat in the team’s first game against Hong Kong, and his first home run came in the team’s third game against Thailand with a superior three-run shot. In the first game of the Super Round against Japan, he broke his no-hitter with an exquisite bunt single in the bottom of the fourth inning. In all of these games, he played second and center field for Korea, opening up the offense and solidifying his position as the next generation of national center fielders.토토사이트
At an age when he was considered the minimum age to enlist in the army, he was able to earn his military service benefits with his performance, and his personal career was further solidified without a hiatus.